Archive for June, 2010

She had got into the habit of leaving the breakfast dishes in the lounge when she stayed over. It was almost her calling card; when I finally roused myself into action on a Sunday afternoon I would always notice if a plate of crumbs wasn’t lying dormant on my coffee table.

It meant she hadn’t stayed. Which meant we’d been fighting again.

She had always been somewhat polarised. Some days she would call me at work, giggling and breathless, whispering torrid words that almost melted the cable down which they travelled. The weekend that followed would be ecstatic. And yet, within days of that, the phone calls would become colder. Sterner. Judgemental. Questions about our future, our direction, our plans. I never did have an answer for her.

I knew she was unhappy. Her husband didn’t particularly treat her badly, he just didn’t understand her. At least that’s how she made out. I saw them together once, in the park where we often met. He seemed to understand her just fine from what I saw. Maybe it was a ruse to lure me in deeper. If it was, it worked.

So whenever she did stay over, under the pretence she was visiting her sister, or some other carefully constructed lie, I tried to forget the questions. She would always find some way to ask them though, never explicitly, only through the sweeping of her hair, the chewing of her lip, the way she blinked twice quickly before kissing me.

And I would smile, stroke her shoulder, resolute in the defence of my position, my truth. Then it would be over;she would dress, always in front of me, as if to try and break my resolve, to try and show me how it could be, how plans could be formed, executed, lived.

And then she would make herself toast. And she would slip away like the tide from the beach, certain to return to disturb my life again soon.

Words: 328

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Marjorie from Number Six always fashioned the latest in pensioner trends. How she could make a “shop mobility scooter” look elegant was frankly perplexing to Brenda.

Bill positively glowed at Marjorie as she glided effortlessly through Penistone market, but Brenda prayed for a minor fall from behind the net curtains. Dennis grunted with disdain at the mere mention of anything vaguely scooter related, but her pangs of jealousy wouldn’t subside.

“You’ll look decrepit” he said, ushering her away from the window.

“I am decrepit, you’ve seen to that”

In times gone by, she had been a remarkable dancer and cricketer, celebrated for her grace on the dance floor and her finesse on the playing field. Brenda had been formidable in her day.

This was about freedom, you see. But her aged bones were now brittle. Her hips had been replaced twice over. Her spine had been bolted in a vain attempt to keep her upright

And he didn’t exactly help matters. Last week’s phone call had caused uproar.

“Why do you tell tales?” he sniped.

“If you weren’t a bully, I wouldn’t have to” she said.

June’s intervention had occurred just in time.

“Mum! Good news! It’s arrived!”

Brenda beamed. This was her escape route.

“I’ll come and collect you on Saturday and we can test it out in Barnsley”

As she placed the phone on the receiver, they bickered. Saturday couldn’t come soon enough.

Brenda watched the blue tits jostling for prime position on the bird bath outside. She imagined jostling with Marjorie for prime position at the market. This gave her the best laugh in ages.

June arrived at 12:30 precisely and hurtled through the house.

“Have you got your coats on? Are the back doors locked?”

“We’re in here, June,” hollered Brenda, excitedly.

“Ooh mum, you do look toasty. Give us a kiss”

Words: 304

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“Didn’t you ever want to know?”

The corridor smells rotten. Grey mould stretches across the walls, while black water drips from the ceiling onto the cracked ceramic tiles below. Giant green spores float listlessly in the stale air.

Something scuttles in the darkness.

“Rat,” you say through clenched teeth.

We saunter on. You following a rusty copper pipe which runs across the ceiling. Me feeling my way on the greasy walls. Corridors branch out into the darkness. Black voids which threaten to turn you around and eat you alive.

Here be dragons. Dragons with eyes as wide as saucers.

We come to a room. An office, I think.

A thick layer of dust sits on the pile of antiquated computer monitors in the corner, while mould mushrooms out of an abandoned coffee cup on one of the desks. Sheets of paper – tinted yellow – carpet the floor.

Eyes as wide as saucers. The torch makes a mockery of our imaginations.

“Come on,” you say, jabbing the pale light towards another corridor.

Later, we find a room containing a pile of office chairs. It’s stacked so high that it nuzzles the celling.

It’s more like a mine now. Corridors become more rock than metal. Space becomes tight and I can feel your breath on my neck as we tentatively inch forward.

The torchlight doesn’t have the spirit to reach the other side of the cavern.

We squeeze in between the two hulking generators. They lie silent, their mechanical innards spread thin across the uneven floor. Screws crunch underfoot as the yellow haze bounces off the jagged metal surrounding us.

Later, we come across something else. You whistle. Impressed. Nerd.

A mass of thick cables pour from the ceiling, around the corridor and into the darkness; a sea of intertwined black wires easily taller than either of us. I swear I can hear it humming. The city. Talking to each other.

“Hello,” you say quietly under your breath.

Words: 229

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